CLEARWATER, Fla. - Houston Baseball opened the American Athletic Conference Championship in a strong way, earning a 9-1 win over No. 4-seeded Cincinnati on Tuesday to advance on in the winner's bracket of this week's tournament in Clearwater, Fla. at Bright House Field.
With the win, the Cougars moved to 34-22 overall and 1-0 on the week, while the Bearcats fell to 26-29-1 and 0-1. Houston is now 7-2 all-time at Bright House Field.
Houston will face the winner of the (1) Tulane -- (8) UCF game on Thursday, May 26 at 2 p.m. CT. The game will air for FREE on the American Digital Network at theamerican.org/dn.
TOP OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCES
Connor Hollis -- 1-for-2 / 3 RBI
Zac Taylor -- 1-for-4 / R / 3 RBI / HR (2)
Connor Wong -- 2-for-4 / 2 R / RBI
Justin Montemayor -- 1-for-3 / R
Corey Julks -- 1-for-3 / R / RBI
Josh Vidales -- 1-for-3 / 2 R / BB (broke all-time record -- 133rd of career)
Houston starter Trey Cumbie (7.0,5,1,1,1,9) struck out a career-high nine Bearcats and tossed 7.0 innings in the win, improving to 5-2 on the year. The southpaw allowed just one run on five hits and one walk in just his fourth start of 2016.
Junior closer Nick Hernandez (1.2,0,0,0,2,5) earned his team-leading ninth save of the year after entering the game in the eighth and inheriting a bases-loaded jam, in which he escaped cleanly.
Houston out hit Cincinnati, 9-7 and found multiple ways to score in Game 1's win.
Sophomore Connor Wong led Houston with a multi-hit game, going 2-for-4 with two runs and an RBI, while sophomore Connor Hollis (1x2, 3 RBI) and sophomore Zac Taylor (1x4, R, 3 RBI) each tallied three RBI. Taylor's three RBI came on his second home run of the year -- a three-run shot in the ninth.
Vidales became the new all-time Houston walk record with his 133rd base on balls to lead off the ninth inning on Tuesday. The 133 surpassed the 132 that he and Zac Presley (2007-10) shared.
Sophomore Corey Julks extended his on-base streak to 20 straight games with a one-out walk in the sixth inning.
Houston jumped on the board first with a run in the top of the third inning when Montemayor reached base via a hit-by-pitch to open the frame and later came around to score on a Wong RBI-single into left field.
The Cougars extended their lead by a run after Vidales doubled, moved to third on a single by Montemayor and scored on a squeeze bunt by Reyes in the fifth.
Cincinnati would trim Houston's lead in half with a solo home run in the bottom of the fifth.
Leading 2-1, Houston used a two-run sixth inning to take a three-run lead as Wong led off with a double, took third on a groundout before Julks walked to put Cougars at the corners. Julks stole second, allowing Hollis to pick up two RBI on the game's second squeeze bunt for Houston -- scoring both Wong and Julks all the way from second to make it a 4-1 game.
Houston extended its lead with two runs in the eighth to make it a 6-1 score. With one out, Wong walked and Davis singled before both moved up a base on a wild pitch. Julks then singled to score Wong and Hollis plated Davis on a sacrifice fly.
Cumbie handed the ball over to senior reliever Bubba Maxwell (0.1,2,0,0,1,0) who took over in the eighth inning and allowed bases loaded following two Bearcat singles and a walk. Maxwell would hand the ball to Hernandez, who struck out the two hitters he faced to keep the score at 6-1 Houston.
After a Vidales walk and Reyes single in the ninth, Taylor blasts his second home run in as many games for three more Houston runs, making it a 9-1 game.
Hernandez returned in the ninth and struck out the side to earn his ninth save.
Cincinnati starter A.J. Olasz (5.1,5,4,4,1,2) allowed four runs on five hits and a walk with two strikeouts in 5.1 innings for the loss -- falling to 2-6 on the year.
JOIN THE DUGOUT CLUB
Nationally-ranked Houston Baseball would like to encourage those wishing to support the efforts and success of the baseball student-athletes to consider joining the Dugout Club for as low as $25 a month or $300 annually.
For a minimum monthly installment of $25 or a minimum one-time gift of $300, supporters can take advantage of the Pinch Hitter level, which will guarantee an invitation for two to exclusive Dugout Club events and Houston Baseball team apparel.
For a minimum monthly installment of $100 or a minimum one-time gift of $1,000, supporters can take advantage of the Diamond level, which will guarantee batting practice passes for two to any home game, invitation for two to exclusive Dugout Club events and Houston Baseball apparel.
**Cougar Pride points will be applied accordingly.
For more information on joining the Dugout Club, please contact the Houston Baseball office at (713) 743-9396.
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